Friday, June 18, 2010

Germany Taxes (Fuel Rods), Sweden Axes (Ban)

sweden__nuclear_Bars_32221b We mentioned awhile ago that the German government intends to tax nuclear energy plants because their emission-free nature allowed them to avoid carbon taxes. Here’s how they put it:

It also said that nuclear reactors aren't affected by carbon dioxide emission trade, contrary to other energy sources such as fossil fuels. As a result, utilities that operate nuclear reactors have posted considerable windfall profits, which further justify the levy, the government said.

It sounded a bit extortionate to us and still does. It turns out we’re not the only ones who feel that way:

Utility firms operating nuclear power plants in Germany have no legal basis for a proposed lawsuit that would fight the planned introduction of a new tax on fuel rods, the federal government said on Friday.

The comment came in response to a report by the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine that utility companies are considering legal action over the proposed tax on the rods required to produce nuclear power.

This appears to be the way Germany decided to extract money from the nuclear plants. According to the article, the tax would bring in $2.8 billion a year. 

And as the story notes, there may not be much basis in law to contest the action. But the move has created considerable heat and, as in the U.S., industries can direct that heat:

"It is correct that the German Chancellor will meet with the chief executives of the four large utilities on June 23," another government spokeswoman said. However the meeting--with E.ON AG, RWE AG and Energie Baden-Wuerttemberg AG and Vattenfall Europe AG--is merely a discussion and no decisions will be taken, she said.

Expect a lively “discussion.” Let’s stay in touch with this one.

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It was a near thing:

The Riksdag [Sweden’s parliament] voted by a narrow 174-172 margin in favor of replacing Sweden's existing 10 aging reactors, overturning a 1980 referendum to gradually phase out the use of nuclear power, and adding to the renewed momentum behind atomic power in Europe as countries try to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

It’s either that or make wreckage of Sweden’s carbon emission reduction goals. Most of these kinds of votes are very close, whether they ultimately uphold or knock down bans, and we appreciate the passion on both sides of the debate, but the twin issues of energy security and global warming, and the growing public understanding of their importance, have nudged the debate just enough to get vote totals over the 50% mark.

So break out the Aquavit and say Skol.

Sweden’s Barseback nuclear plant. A sort of austere view, what you might expect from the land of Ingmar Bergman.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well, here's the result of government out of control.

Why people want to trust dishonest politicians to regulate nuclear energy is beyond understanding.

As I have repeatedly said, the best govt is the least govt. A govt that can give you everything you want can take everything you have away.

George Carty said...

No! While big government certainly has its problems, minimal government just means that people of good will will be subjugated by strongmen.

Strongmen come in various guises: warlords, mobsters, robber barons (of both medieval and corporate varieties), bankers, property speculators etc.

Anonymous said...

On the flip side, does this mean that the German government is becoming addicted to nuclear power? If this nuke tax goes into effect, will future administrations be able to afford to shut it down?

... Though if I ran a German utility, my next reactor would be one of those floating Russian things. Don't want my power? Fine, up anchor and away, to some country that does.

Phil said...

As I have repeatedly said, the best govt is the least govt. A govt that can give you everything you want can take everything you have away.

No matter how many times you repeat this mantra it never makes any sense. Repeating it doesn't give it any legitimacy, it just demonstrates your stubbornness and inability to understand how the world works.